The Hindi film industry has gone through some serious transformation this year. While the society continued to get closer to the idea of a more secured personal space, central characters in films struggled to strike a balance between their inner and outer worlds. They don’t have social demons to fight with anymore but need to overpower their own anxieties.
Sometimes it’s the dream of owning a house in a metropolis that gives them sleepless nights. At other times, it’s just a feeble connect that they want to further explore in order to sleep tight.
Our breakout performers of the year have mostly held on to one overwhelming emotion, and it’s their understanding of the milieu that made them stand out.
So, here they are:
Vineet Singh (Mukkabaaz): UP’s Mike Tyson was fighting simultaneously on different fronts. Just winning bouts wasn’t going to fetch him any credibility. Slowly and steadily, the whole world turned against him. Even he was in a dilemma whether street brawls would lead him anywhere or not. Eventually, Singh came up with a formula of following a single lead—aggression with a tinge of idealism.
Angira Dhar (Love Per Square Foot): Why do you feel what you feel while crossing a railway line? In this one, Angira Dhar, aptly supported by Vicky Kaushal, brought out the complexities of urban life where feelings have more to do with conveniences than fantasies. You would understand her pursuits only if you have been taunted by your landlord for pinning a nail in the wall.
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Geetanjali Thapa (Kuch Bheege Alfaaz): We have broken people among us, but their smiles are brighter than most of us. A meme artist is still not mainstream, however Thapa told us that her job may sound fancy but her problems are as normal and depressing as losing your long-preserved ring on your wedding day. Something that won’t let you feel complete.
Kartik Aaryan (Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety): What a fun guy! It seems absurd that anybody would pull out all stops like Aaryan to stop his friend from marrying a girl of his choice, but he did, despite the risk of sounding borderline misogynist. His spontaneity, energy and mischievous attitude prompted him to take the ‘villain-ised’ girl head on and I didn’t mind.
Varun Dhawan (October): In one of the rare Bollywood films which sees love as an extension of humanity and not desire, Dhawan simply nailed it with his outspoken behaviour and not wanting anything in return. Not every action is explainable in his universe but how he matured as a person formed the essence of this soothing narrative. Remember, how October released in April and calmed down your senses?
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Alia Bhatt (Raazi): You can question certain actions in the film like the servant running to nowhere on an empty road or Sehmat wiring the entire house without being noticed, but amid all this, there was a girl who was, in a way, forced to take up her father’s job. A Kashmiri Muslim girl putting everything on stake for the sake of her country that would never be able to pay her back for her losses. Detailed, graded and distinct.
Priyanshu Painyuli (Bhavesh Joshi Superhero): The inspiration behind the making of an Indian superhero whose nitrous ignition doesn’t kick-off in time. His commonality was his strength. Haven’t we met similar whistle-blowers in life? His palpable anger turned out to be the perfect launch-pad for a new superhero.
Pankaj Tripathi (Stree): He is only going from strength to strength. Stree might be his biggest commercial success in recent times, but he is the most eye-catching character in most of his projects. No visible anger yet terrifying, no smile yet hilarious, and no lead yet the lead. He deserves all the accolades coming his way.
Abhishek Bachchan (Manmarziyaan): Robby’s simmering anger reflects the time we live in. The values have changed, the meaning and gestures have changed. He showed how difficult it could be for someone who is liberated yet conventional. It was a good comeback for Bachchan.
Nawazuddin Siddiqui (Manto): To imagine that he is the same guy who has known for reigning havoc with machine guns! From creating amazing stories about brothels to getting heartbroken while being called an average storyteller, Siddiqui lived many lives in Manto, and excelled in all of them. Wouldn’t you return his Bambai to him if you could?
Sunil Grover (Pataakha): Probably the most underrated character of the year, Dipper was unashamed of his identity and choices in life. Nobody could stop him from poking his nose in matters of not his concern. He would have fun at your expense. More power to the writers too.
Ayushmann Khurrana (AndhaDhun): He channelled the traits—likeability, disdain, self-pity and disruptive fun—to find himself watching a murder. You didn’t want him to be murdered or his eyes gauged, but you also want to know what he is up to. He is a conman and a victim, mostly of his own mistakes. Khurrana playing a piano, along with Tabu’s crocodile tears, would be hard to forget.
Tabu (AndhaDhun): What do I say? Just don’t go near her. You would never know what you’ll get into. This is how nuanced she is in the film despite having played tonally similar characters in the past.
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